Look and Listen... | Regardez et écoutez ...

How to write a cover letter | Comment écrire une lettre de présentation

What is a cover letter? | Qu’est-ce qu’une lettre de présentation?

A cover letter is a one-page communication tool that accompanies the resumé and sparks the employer’s interest. It is an opportunity for job seekers to:

  • Demonstrate interest in a position

  • Motivate the employer to look at the resumé

  • Create interest that leads to an interview

  • Highlight strengths, specific abilities, talents and experiences

  • Make a positive first impression

  • Personalize the job application

What should be included in a cover letter? | Que faut-il inclure dans une lettre de motivation?

A cover letter is a one-page correspondence and accompanies a resume.

At the top of the cover letter is the current date.

Next is the inside address. It should include accurate employer details such as the name of the person concerned, his or her title, the department, the name of the establishment, the company, organization or employer, and the proper address.

The letter may or may not include a reference line. When responding to a specific job posting, the position title, where one saw the ad for the job and the date are referenced.

The cover letter salutation usually addresses the letter to a specific person. However, in French, the cover letter salutation should be addressed to either “Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle”. Note that these are not followed by the family name. One may also use the person’s job title such as “Madame la Présidente or Monsieur le Directeur”.

The first paragraph of the cover letter is the introduction. It typically consists of two to four sentences and establishes the purpose of the letter. This paragraph is intended to attract attention and to create interest in the applicant. The position sought, the job title or the type of employment that is of interest as well as the reasons for this should be provided.

Next is the development of the letter. It usually consists of one or two paragraphs outlining one’s experiences. These paragraphs are intended to spark the employer’s interest by matching one’s skills and experiences to the job description and to the needs of the organization. Emphasis should be placed on what skills the applicant possesses that may be most important to the employer according to the needs of the job. Major accomplishments, special skills and experiences that are most relevant should be described using action verbs. Only the most important and relevant information is included to highlight one’s skills and personal traits.

The last paragraph is the conclusion of the letter and includes a maximum of four sentences. It is intended to express one’s desire for an interview and one’s availability. This paragraph may include details on how one will follow up and/or include personal contact information such as a phone number and an e-mail address. It is customary to thank the employer for his or her consideration in the last sentence.

The closing follows the last paragraph. It is a polite phrase such as sincerely or thank you.

A hand written signature follows the closing.

After the signature the sender's name, address and important contact information appear.

Note: The sender’s address (or heading) may appear before the date at the top of the letter.

Any attachments such as a resumé or other pertinent artifacts are listed at the bottom of the cover letter.